I'm confused

I like to spend time on Audiogon to educate myself. However, the more I educate myself, the more confuse I get. That shows how novel I am.

Here is my case. I have 7 power-hungry speakers with handling power from 50-250watt. Due to small room size (12'X13'), my current HT set up 5.1 Thinking 90wpc is sufficient, I received a free used Denon 2802 as a gift. My AVR got clip once when I was watching Tears From the Sun too loud. I learned that b/c 90wpc was not continuously power driven, the true wpc could get reduced substantially. So here are my options below.

1) Get 7-channel amp (100 - 200wpc) to go w/ current Denon AVR. Cons: some body said that I am better off saving my $ by using the amp from current AVR since multichannel amp is not any better. Is this true?

2) Use my current AVR or upgrade to better, more powerful one since multi-channel does not add much value to the quality of sound compared to the amount of money added. Cons: Sound quality?

3) Get 2-channel amp to drive main speakers during stereo mode. Get additional 3-channel amp to drive center and side rear speakers. In the future, get additional 2 channel to complete the 7.1 setup. Cons: really limited space, really excessive generated heat, and really expensive.

4) Go separate like the Outlaw combo -- 7X200wpc amp and a separate preamp/processor for ~ $2400. Cons: entry preamp/processor won't make a difference compared to other higher-end preamp/proc? Moreover, I can get a better quality pre-own combo for less amount of money, and if so DOES THE WPC ON PREAMP/PROC HAVE TO MATCH W/ WPC ON MULTI-CHANNEL AMP?

Even though the info provided is very limited, if you were me, which option would you pick and explain why you pick such option or eliminate others. I'm new to this, so I'm all ears. Each response got my full, undivided attention.
Do you have a subwoofer? Let me know I have a few ideas pending that answer.

Per 4)WPC channel matching I have no idea what you are talking about here. Their are reasons why some match better than others, generally with the level of gear your into you need not concern yourself with that mess.

Yea, more I learn the more I get confused.

Marty, it seems that you haven't actually stated your goal; is it to listen to bombastic movies without clipping? And/or do you want to be able to clearly hear each instrument in a 2 channel symphony? While it's true that the same amount of money will get a better 2 channel system, how much would you miss by not having good surround sound (for music as well as movies)? I believe your most cost effective solution here is indeed a more powerful multi-channel amp, because the Denon, while not super-high-end, has excellent features (I'm assuming it DOES have multichannel pre-outs) as a pre-amp. As I think Marty is alluding to, you might even be able to solve your clipping problem with a decent powered sub-woofer to replace some of the amp-sapping low frequency duties. I must say however, that in most AVRs, the sound quality will suffer slightly in some ways when using bass management on the receiver, but the tradeoff may be acceptable to your ears. You also really should divulge what your speakers are and what their efficiency is if you know it.

Good luck,

Mike R.
What kind of speakers are you using. What is their efficiency, and processor output setting?

Do you have a subwoofer? Marty makes a good point, because if you use a subwoofer you can set all your speakers to "small" rather than a "large" setting if that's what you're doing. This will take a big load off your speakers especially your mains and allow them to perform better without having to reproduce the LFE channel.

We could use a little more information.
Pick up a higher powered ( 150 - 200 wpc ) 3 channel amp and use that for your center, left and right channels. This will take the load off of the power supply in the Denon and allow it to deliver more power to the remaining four channels in both a more consistent and dynamic manner.

Since you had all 7 channels pulling on the power supply at the same time, i'm sure that the power supply was sagging. This causes the power available to any channel at any given time to be reduced, resulting in starvation, clipping and smeared sonics. By reducing the number of channels drawing upon said power supply, in effect, you help to stabilize the power supply and minimize sag. This allows the amp to run at rated power with greated dynamic headroom for the remaining four channels.

At the same time that all of this is taking place, the majority of signal that you are listening to would be fed to the three front speakers in both a higher quality and more potent manner via the three channel amp. You get the most bang for the buck this way and can always upgrade the remaining channels at a later date should you feel the need. Sean
All of the advice above is good, so please excuse me if I question one aspect of your thinking (and I don't mean this as a personal insult in any way). You didn't mention any near-term plan to get a larger listening room, so I don't see the merit of a 7.1 HT system in a room that measures 12'x13'. Infact, I think the 7.1 HT setup is questionable for the vast majority of home listeners for two reasons:
1. there is very little software being made for either 6.1 or 7.1 format, and from the articles that I've read there is little intent in Hollywood to do so;
2. adding several more sets of speakers, plus the required amplification, adds a lot of cost and provides little or no improvement over a high quality 5.1 system (unless, perhaps, the listening room is quite large).

With regard to point #1, I suggest you go the following two links on Bryston's Web site and read the comments about 5.1 vs. the expanded formats:
1. http://www.bryston.ca/newsletters/55_files/vol5is5.html
(see the article called "Encode vs. Decode")
2. http://www.bryston.ca/newsletters/64_files/vol6is4.html
(see the article called "The Great Capitulation")

My personal advice is to stick with the 5.1 HT setup and invest more money in the quality of your amps and speakers, probably adding a good subwoofer, before adopting the expanded formats. Sean's recommendation to get a decent 3-channel amp (such as the Adcom GFA-5503) for your center and surround speakers makes a lot of sense (and is the approach I used in assembling my own HT system). Investing in better quality 5.1 format equipment will result in a much better HT system than adding several more mediocre speakers and channels of amplification.

Five years ago I set up an HT system using a Marantz 5.1 pre/pro and an ATI AT1505 5x150 watt amp feeding five NHT monitors. I also have an NHT 12" sub and all this is in a 12x14 room. By now all this equipment is yesterday's tech, but I haven't had the urge to upgrade since. It may be because my interest has been focused on 2 channel listening ever since.

But I wll tell you that I never feel a need for more power or dynamics even on demanding movie scenes. It may have to do with what some of the respondents here have recommended about using a high current amp other than the Denon for your front channels. With the monitors set to small and the subwoofer set to cover everything below what the monitors are fed, I get the full effect of crashes, explosions and dinosaur stomps in a convincing and controlled manner.

In my small room, I feel adding more channels isn't necessary.
Lej1447, just some food for thought..... maybe it's not the amp running out of steam, but possibly the wall? I use a Denon 3803 for my HT. It is rated at 105wpc. I am using said amp in conjunction with 89db efficient speakers in a room just slightly larger than your room configuration. Since that room only has 15 amp receptacles, I find that the amp is fully capable of drawing more power than the wall receptacle can provide.

Maybe a regenerative power conditioner may be in order? If you are trying to avoid more amplifiers (space limitations, heat, interconnects, etc.), could this possibly provide you with an alternative? Needless to say, all of your HT components will benefit from a stabilized power source. Power "draw down" or "sags" will become virtually nonexistent. You will find that your amp will sound like it's on steroids, not to mention the clocks in your DVD player and receiver will become much more stable.

You will probably not notice a major difference in SPL by going from 100 to 200 wpc. But, stabilize the AC power and you will notice that extremely dynamic passages will become much more effortless for the amp to reproduce. You would be surprised. That little Denon is probably capable of drawing as much as 1000-1200 watts from the wall at high volume level passages. Unless you stabilize those types of power draws, the amp will have a tendency to sound it's clipping when it is actually not. This also wreaks havoc on your digital section since the DA/AD clocks need a stable voltage supply.

Something like an Exactpower EP-15 or Accuphase will provide you with a very stable 120v/60 cycle power waveform, no matter what type of load you put it up against. Again, ALL of your HT components will benefit from this type of power conditioning, the unit will not occupy a lot of space, will generate virtually no heat, and would probably be extremely cost effective, condsidering your other options.

Also, if you decide to upgrade to other components at a later date, they will all benefit from stable, clean power.

Just a thought.
I didn't post my gear b/c I was afraid such posting would be too long. However, here are my gears and my preference so that I can get more specific help.

* Speakers for main and surround:
Acoustic Research Phantom 8.3 series (quantity = 6)
45-20kHz +/- 3db, 89db sensitive, 50-250 watts
* Center speaker (quantity = 1):
Acoustic Research Phantom 252C with similar spec.
* Subwoofer: Polk PSW350 (150watt)
* Power surge conditioner: Monster Powerbar 2100
* 42" Panasonic plasma w/o tuner or speaker.
* Listening Preference: 50% TV shows, 40% Movies, and
20% Music Videos, ranged from Classical to Hip Hop.

Note: Don't plan to expand from 5.1 to 7.1 for another 5 years. Deal on matching speakers was too good to refuse. Currently, I love to watch & listen music videos through surround sound mode of 5 speakers. Eventually, it will be 7-speaker surround mode.


1) The most cost-effective quick-fix method to minimize clip is to get 3-channel amp to drive center & main speakers while the Denon AVR to drive the remaining rear? How about getting a 2channel amp since 50% of my time is to watch regular TV shows in Stereo mode?

2) On one side of the wall, there is 2 electrical outlets w/ only 1 Monster Cable Powerbar 2100 plugged in. Is this considered a dedicated outlet? Is Monster Powerbar sufficient or do I have to get a stage 4 Power conditioner?

3) Any other input regarding suggestion, equipment, and...?
Buscis: While your comments about cleaning up the AC is quite valid in terms of providing a greater dynamic contrast, most multi-channel receivers are built phenomenally cheap. As such, the power supplies sag VERY noticeably when all channels are driven hard. I've seen units that are rated at 100 wpc actually produce 50 - 70 wpc when all channels are driven. Things can get even worse when driving low impedance speakers, since the power supply is REALLY "choking" as each channel tries to pull twice the current as it would at 8 ohms.

As such, going from a "choked" low power level for all channels to a "clean and real" higher power level for the mains and center and allowing the power supply of the receiver to somewhat "coast" and "stabilize" can make a drastic difference. Not only is the end result far punchier and cleaner, the increased stability of the power supply helps with better performance ( imaging, tonal balance, etc... ) in most every aspect.

Other than that, i agree with SD. 12 X 13 is WAY too small for a 7.1 installation. If you are currently running 5.1, what are you doing with the two extra Phantom's that you have ? Sean
Sean, I agree. HT receivers of this magnitude will always confront you with compromise. Especially in terms of power supplies, which generally do not have the capability of high current flow and the ability to recharge the caps in the power supply adequately in real time.

I was trying to consider the users space limitation factors and also heat concerns being generated by additional amplifiers. My Denon (rated at 105 pc) would probably actually spec out at approx. 65-75 wpc before the THD curve goes through the roof.

An increase of output power from 100 to 200 watts would probably only increase SPLs by approx. 2 db. My point being, the concerns of the user are considering the aforementioned space and heat. Although adequate power supplies would provide a higher dynamic headroom capability, they would also require a higher level current of flow from the wall. It would be kind of a 2 steps forward, one step back scenario.

For instance, if the user were to obtain a quality 3 channel to use in conjunction with the existing Denon HT receiver, he would also need to provide more AC power from the wall. A quality amplifier will increase it's power output based on impedance load. 200 watts @ 8 ohms, 400 watts at 4 ohms, 800 watts @ 2 ohms x 3 channels. That amp, theoretically, would require 2400 watts from the wall.

I was suggesting, instead of introducing those types of power requirements, simply providing a stable, regulated AC power supply that would adjust to current demands, to the existing amplifier. We are both fully aware that the Monster power strip presently being used is acting to "choke" that poor little amp.

I have always firmly believed that problem rectification begins with problem identification. I would be interested in hearing what that system would do with a stable 120 volts @60 cycles without "sags". The user might be pleasantly surprised, and would still be staying within the confines of estblished limitations of room, heat, etc.
DON'T BUY A 2 CHANNEL for music buy a Three because the Denon will not be able to match the volume of the center with a good 200watt 2 channel amp... You need to buy a good 3 channel amp to get the same volume/current across the front.

Since your room is so small and I use to have 2000watts 8ohms RMS in a 11'x11' room plus an 18" Velodyne Servo Sub.
I can say one thing.. Treat the room (first order reflections, bass traps, and damping behind your listening position) You system will clean up and effects and imaging will sharpen, and suddenly you won't seem to need as much power!
I looked briefly and could not find the impedance of your speakers. Please check and post for us-8 ohms, 6 ohms, 4 ohms?

Double check your settings and be sure the speakers are set to "small". Make sure you are dumping as much as possible to the subwoofer. Downside here is your subwoofer will get overloaded, big time. A subwoofer capable of handling all your lower frequency needs is a great place to start. The low frequency range uses the vast majority of you receivers available power.

Turn off all the "loudness" buttons, built in eq's ect. These things can do major damage.

I have some confusion on the 5.1/7.1 details of your system. Honestly, physically remove the extra two speakers and start with a 5.1 system. For your room size this is especially important. I am not big on 7.1/6.1 for a few reasons, others have stated reasons in this tread. Currently I have all the gear to run these setup and choose not to. Removing these speakers will free up power for you receiver. Don't leave the speakers in this room, unused speakers do really weird things to the acoustics of the room.

Most cost effective solution-find a different hobby. Only joking. A three channel amp for the front three is the best place to start in my opinion.

The first place to start is to understand why an amplifier clips. Simplistically I believe the answer is the unit runs out of power. The straight truth here is the Denon is a very small unit. This is a given truth with any receiver. True, some on the largest models will "rock", but for the price one can do better.

A dedicated outlet/line is a line that runs directly from the circuit breaker to the outlet you plug things into. One always needs to install/have installed these lines. Finding out which outlets are on which lines and not plugging anything but HT gear helps, but is not dedicated. Not having the fridge/window ac on these same circuits is a big plus.

I seems from your original post you are willing to spend a few bucks. If want to crank thing up, start with separate amplification. If your looking for all the minor details in movies, sound separation ect. start looking at a dedicated processor(Outlaw mention). Your current Denon will perform all these functions currently, just not the amplification to suit your needs.

The power clean up posts are very valid, I just don't think your at this point. I think you have reached the available power limits on your Denon and are wanting more.

Good luck,
Thank you all for your inputs. If you haven't done so, yet you have some ideas for improvement, please post them here so that I can learn from your valuable experience.

For a quick-fix in this case, I should get the following two items with the first one as the highest priority.

1) Add a 3-channel amp to current Denon AVR.
2) Get rid of Monster Powerbar & get a better power surge


You may laugh, but at this moment, those two extra speakers are in the box in my bedroom. Are you familiar with such speakers?
Lej: I have seen and heard these speakers. The installation was far from optimum and we only listened for a brief period of time. They are a relatively unique design, that is for sure. Sean
Sorry for I forgot to post, but the impedance is 8 ohms. Given such, should I change the setting for speakers on AVR to "small" per your recommendation? I figure out the advantage, but what is the disadvantage?

Is power conditioner a highly recommended gear for a 7-ch amp or even 3-ch powerful amp, especially when there is no dedicated outlet? Get rid of my Monster powerbar?

If I go w/ the separates like Outlaw, is it worth the money? Can most peoples ears differentiate the improvement in quality, especially when you mention minutes details in recording?
Large/Small: A "Large" speaker is one which receives a full range of sound, 32Hz to 20Khz basically. A "Small" speaker setting is one in which the pre amp/processor routes the low frequencies, say 80Hz and below to the subwoofer. This is a ball park guesestimate, others please correct if totally off base, but I think the vast majority of the receivers available power(75%) is used to create the low frequencies, ~80Hz and below.

With your setup I see a few problems. One, you have a subwoofer, let it do it's job with the low frequencies. Two, your receiver is simply not capable of creating these low frequencies at the volume level you desire. Also creating these frequencies from both your subwoofer and main speakers does really weird/bad things. What can happen is the two can cancel each other out. So all this hard works ends up being canceled out by the time the sound reaches your ear.

Think of it this way, your subwoofer has a built in amplifier just to these low frequencies(150watt) and your are also trying to do these plus everything else with it's built in 90 watt amplifier, 5 times over. NOTE:You subwoofer will have it's limits, I guessing these limits will be below your desires(next thread..:).

Power coordinators-I'm all for power conditioners. Given this situation I would advise you forget about this and focus on the core components. Amps/subs/speakers/processors. If the power at your wall is fairly clean, power conditioners will have a much lesser effect. How do we know if the power is clean/dirty...still have not figured this one out. Did a thread on this and was left thinking I should just call NASA. IT all comes down to trail and error with power conditioners.

If your serious about working on the power issue I strongly suggest installing/having installed a dedicated line or two. Dollar for dollar I have yet to find a tweak that improved my personal system as much. Some people can hear grass grow, I can't. I heard a big improvement when I did this one. Plus the cost can be far less than most power conditioners. Don't be afraid to try your system with out any power conditioners, you might be surprised.

Separates: I think most people can hear a large improvement. Just an opinion. Plus you can upgrade only the component(processor/amp) you desire instead of being forced to upgrade both at once. It's funny, if you look into your receiver you will see a big transformer, big heavy metal thingy plus all the other circuitry. In a stand alone amp, that is all thats in the box, and it takes up the whole box.

Outlaw: I have never heard this gear. No clue, everybody seems to give high praise here on the web about this gear. I think they have a return policy, I assume your stuck paying to ship it at least one direction if not two.

8 ohms=good for receiver.

Lej1447, as I said previously if your speakers are currently set to "large", before considering any further purchases I would definitely recommend changing them to "small" then take the time to evaluate your system.

If the 8.3s are reproducing full-range sound, they may be struggling during transient spikes and dynamic movie scenes. Using the Denon's bass management to set the crossover in the 80-100Hz area would definitley help ease the workload on the 8.3s. Let the sub handle the dirty work!

If you feel you're still experiencing this same problem, then consider buying a good three-channel amp for your front speakers. As some of the previous posters have mentioned, having matching speakers AND power across the front is important for timbre matching and good panning/steering.

Try the cheap fixes first!
Lej1447, here is a simple experiment. Unplug the Denon receiver from the power strip, and plug it directly into the wall. See if you notice a difference in the capability of reproducing dynamic passages.

Let us know of your results.
Marty, the 80Hz LFE setting you mention IS actually quite standard. Although many processors and AVRs these days have bass management systems that allow adjustability of this frequency, 80HZ seems to be the THX standard [for whatever that's worth], heheh. My old Marantz AV550's LFE however is stuck only at 100Hz, but it works fine for me.

About five years ago when Outlaw came out with its first amp it was rumored that it was an OEM ATI AT1505 exactly like the one I own. The casing and most of the innards were nearly identical, but the price was considerably lower. Since then, and I haven't really kept close tabs, they have released AV procesors and receivers, but I can't vouch for their quality. However, they seem to offer good products at a good value.

Lej1447, as a whole I feel that getting more amp than you need is better than not having enough, and this is especially true for 5.1 encoded movies and their big bang effect tracks. I use dinky NHT mini monitors that are anywhere from five to eight years old being driven by 150 watts to each channel and have never had a problem with lack of dynamics, clipping or being overdriven. Having a lot of clean power on tap reduces the tendency of the amp going into clipping possibly like your Denon is with the AR 8.3s. Setting your speakers to small will help in this direction.
Gentleman, let's put opinions aside and evaluate based on facts and raw numbers. Lej1447 is presently using a 15 amp non-dedicated circuit as a power source for a plasma tv, a 5x90 HT receiver, a 150 watt sub, and any other input sources. On it's best day, that receptacle is capable of providing 1600 watts of AC current. That is assuming he has a solid 120v/60cy waveform with no deviation.

In terms of wattage to SPL ratio, 1 watt is providing 89db of SPL. Let us use the gradient scale for increased SPL output. In order to increase SPL by 3db, we would need to double the power. So, 2 watts would provide 92db, 4 watts/95db, 8 watts/98db, 16 watts/101db, 32 watts/104db, 64 watts/107db and based on present calculations, 128 watts/110db.

I am sure that most of us realize how loud 107db of SPL is, in a 12'x13' room. Most gunshots in Dolby Digital or DTS format are mixed to provide 103db. So this would give a fair indication of how loud 107db actually is.

The output wattage of most amplifiers is rated at 120 volts. If the receptacle is only providing say, 117 volts, current in watts would drop to 1350 watts.

Now, a plasma tv can use as much as 500 watts of AC. A 150 watt sub, considering high dynamic passages, could demand up to 600 watts of power. The HT amplifier based on a 90 watt output per channel would use a minimum of 450 watts, and that is not even considering power loss for operation efficiency. Let us not even consider the source components being used.

We have just used 1550 watts of AC power.

Now we are recommending another 3 channel amplifier?

Treat me like I'm an idiot. Where is the AC power coming from, to operate this additional amplifier?

(I'll give you a clue), IT AIN'T THERE. Are we now worsening an existing problem by adding ANOTHER amplifier and not seeing the forest from the trees?

My opinion regarding power conditioning precludes AC filtration. That is not my primary concern. AC current capability, current limiting, and AC instability is my primary concern.

I think we are fixing the blame, not the problem. I have this funny feeling that if this little HT receiver had a STABLE AC power source, such as Marty suggests, a dedicated 20 amp receptacle or as I suggest a power regenerator/stabilizer, he might have a problem resolved. This is even considering a "mid fi" HT receiver with it's questionable power supplies.

A tree needs water to grow. An amplifier needs AC power to amplify. Let's not ignore the most basic of operating principals.

With all due respect, my opinion still stands. Provide the AC power required for this amplifier to operate PROPERLY, and the listening results may be quite different.
Guys, thank you very much. I have a heading direction. Glad that I came here to seek your expertise for valuable advice.

Marty9876 and Gunbei, I will experiment with "small speaker" setting on my AVR as I dump more load onto the subwoofer.

Buscis2, I will try your suggested experiment before I toss out my Monster Powerbar and head out for a power conditioner.

Sean and Cytocycle, I love your ideas, i.e. getting a multi-channel amp, and still working on it. By experimenting the setting on gears per recommendations of other Audigon members, I will definitely have more time to wait for a good pre-owned multi-channel amp to show up. Once I have a good amp, hopefully, I can change the setting to "large speakers" on AVR in order to experience the full frequency, which the Phantom speakers offer.

I'm not confused any more!!!!!!
Gunbei- I just stated 80Hz as a place to start. Keep things simple, less confusion for this specific instance. Reality here is crossing at 120Hz or higher might be the best idea. I don't know if the Denon receiver in this thread has these options. If the manual says by setting the speakers to small means they will be crossed at 80Hz by default I just thought this would make more sense.

Buscis2- Interesting statements on the power issues. In my opinion you could plug this receiver into the site of a nuclear power plant and still come up lacking. It is a very small receiver in all aspects. I'm not sure how much one can ask of this receiver.

Marty, I guess my question would be, "How much receiver do you need for 107db in a 12'x13' room"?
Your statement is very valid. Since my HT is not even high end, how do other pros address such issue? If AC outlet is the constraint, how do they run their high-end systems, which consist of numerous higher power amps and many bigger speakers?

If the crossover is set so high, why do people want to spend lots of money on hi-end speakers that can produce low freqency?

I'm confused!!!!!!
I cant say from personal experience, but from everything i have heard you cant go wrong with the outlaw combo...

does anybody else think thier logo looks somewhat goofy?
kinda like the subaru outback...

anyways, i heard constantly how good these are
Lej1447, Marty had mentioned an approach to providing sufficient AC to your equipment through the use of 20 amp dedicated circuits. For most large amplifier users, this is not an option, but a requirement. A dedicated outlet for your system would provide a substantial benefit. It would also benefit any future equipment you may intend on buying.

It is too often assumed that people are providing enough AC current to their equipment. In many cases, the AC being provided is totally inadequate. Also, people tend to establish opinions of certain equipment without ever really knowing if the AC power being provided is of any quality.

It is a very basic level of thinking. "Junk in/Junk out".
Think about it for a moment Lej1447, how can you really come to the accurate conclusion, that you need to replace your amplification, unless you positively know that the power you are providing to this unit is adequate. If it's not adequate, what do you think will happen when you install a LARGER amplifier.

Keep in mind, you are in a considerably small room. How much power do YOU feel you need to provide ear shattering video dynamics. Not a lot. There is no doubt in my mind that 60-70 watts with an 89db efficient speaker would provide that, plus some. But, the amp must be able to provide that power without having to struggle for input power. I will be the first to agree that you are not using the pinnacle of home theater receivers. Neither am I. I'm using the one model up from yours in a room with an almost identical configuration.

This system provides an ungodly amount of SPL with plenty of power to spare. This is what first raised my suspicions regarding your system.

Did you try plugging the amp directly into the wall yet?
Ooops, sorry to confuse you more Lej1447!! :-)

In my opinion, most people view bass reproduction in a monitor or main speakers as secondary to how it performs with everything above those frequencies. This is just my opinion, others may disagree.

I use ProAc monitors in my music system because of the way they reproduce midrange and how they soundstage, and because they sound great with vocals and acoustic instruments. I do ssometimes use a subwoofer with them to add some bottom end weight for music, but I don't have a crossover in the path of the ProAcs because it would muddy their great midrange. I let them run full range, becasue I never have the need to crank them to movie sound levels just for music.

For home theater however, the criteria in picking main, center and surround speakers probably wouldn't follow those guidelines because reproducing the crashing effects of movies and a jazz quartet are two different animals. Because of the great demands a movie score can put on any speaker, whether monitor or full range, I think more emphasis would be placed on power handling and the actual placement of the speakers to create an effective HT experience. Picking speakers that are tonally agreeable with you is important as well, but the other factors I mentioned would probably be more heavily weighed with HT speakers because of movie soundtrack dynamics and proper placement for the "theater" experience.

My viewpoint is obviously biased as I place much more importance on my 2channel rig than my HT system. I did a little research on your speakers and it seems to me that weren't intended for "true" full range use because of their rated 45Hz bottom end, aluminum cabinet and "in-wall/wireless" classification. Running them in this fashion could strain them sooner than a speaker designed to be full range if pushed. One thing you could try is to set the main speakers to large when 2 channel listening and switch back to small for impactful movies. An interesting review of the ARs in different HT applications can be read here:


Many people receive more enjoyment from HT than music and spend big bucks to create an immersive movie viewing experience, and that's cool too. They invest in floorstanding main speakers like the NHT VT series or Aerial Acoustics 8B or 10Ts that are capable of excellent bass so they can set them to "large" and ONLY the LFE information goes to the sub/s. Yes, there is material in a movie soundtrack that may sound better coming from 2 good full range mains while leaving that which is specifically intended for LFE to be handled by the sub. But in a small room like yours or mine where space is limited and the benefits of such a set up are questionable or impractical, going with all satellites and a sub makes more sense.

I hope this response isn't too haphazard and makes some sense to you, heheh.

Also, Buscis2's recommendation about looking into the quality and quantity of AC current available to you has merit. Big amps in systems producing big bass especially those for movies with multiple channels put incredible demands on the amount of current drawn from the wall. That's the reason many audiophiles might run their source, DAC and preamp into a power conditioner, but run their power amp directly into the wall. Many audiophiles claim that power conditioners reduce the amount of immediate current on demand, thus limiting dynamics during spikes in the music. I've noticed this phenomena as well, and that's why the Bryston 4B that powers my subwoofer doesn't go through a power conditioner but directly to the wall with a good power cord. Many audiophiles go a step further and have their wall receptacles upgraded and even their house rewired to accommodate power amps that draw a lot of current.

Sorry to keep piling explanation upon explanation on you, but there are many issues that might be involved. I would still recommend looking at the simplist experiment first, and that is setting all your speakers to "small". If the problem with your amp going into clipping and restricted dynamics remains, then reevaluate and consider a more powerful multichannel amp or reconfiguring your power conditioner/power cord set up.

Good luck for now,
Buscis: If the system was pulling as much power as you suggest, either the 15 amp breaker would be popping or there would be noticeable distortion of both the audio and video presentation on a regular basis. I do agree that there is a lot of gear hooked up to one outlet, but i really don't think that this is really that abnormal outside of "audiophileland" or "videophileland".

As to the wattage levels that you assigned the various gear, i think that they are a bit off in some respects. Most HT based subs use switching amps that are 90% efficient. There are some that are rated even higher i.e. at 94% if i recall correctly. Even under full load and working at an efficiency level of 90%, such an amp would be pulling 165 watts. At anything less than full throttle, it would be pulling quite a bit less.

As far as source components go, most of these devices are well under 45 watts at most. Most devices run somewhere between 15 watts and 35 under full load.

In terms of running another amp, you have to remember that we are removing power draw from the receiver for the two or three channels that the amp is taking over. Granted, i DO expect the amp to pull more power than the receiver does, but given the relatively low bias that most multi-channel amps operate at, it should still be within reason.

By the way, a 15 amp breaker running at 117 volts will allow 1755 watts to pass for an extended period of time before tripping. The same breaker running at 120 volts will trip at 1800 watts. I don't know where you came up with your figures, but they are incorrect. My figures are based on Ohm's Law and "theoretical" ratings of the breakers in terms of their "trip points".

Other than that, i do agree that another AC line would help things out. I still think that the receiver is anemic though.

Gunbei: Your suggestion about using the speakers in "small" mode is excellent. This will take much of the strain off of the receiver and may even allow the speakers to achieve a higher SPL AND do so in a cleaner fashion. Since the speakers would be seeing less power at lower frequencies, driver excursion and heat build-up would be reduced, allowing for both faster and more linear response at mid and high frequency levels. Since i sincerely doubt that these speakers are truly capable of deep bass due to their design and cabinet size, this should really help things out. Good thinking and a wise suggestion. I wish i would have thought of it. : ) Sean
Here is my update. On my AVR, I changed the speakers to small rather than large, changed the bass to subwoofer only rather than to a combination of main speakers and subwoofer, set the dynamic to normal rather than max, and adjusted the crossover higher on Denon and subwoofer. I poped in The Lord of The Rings, and it sounded rather flat, not as dynamic. Bass was really nondirectional rather than coming from all speakers, especially the front. The voice of Gandorff lacked the warmth that he used to have. In fact, he almost sounded like my 2-yr-old daughter as she was my reference guide. On the bright side, speech was not as muddy.

When I changed all settings back, it sounded really really good, much more dynamic, except when I pushed the limit by turning the volume knob down to -24db. The left main speaker popped twice quickly during the heavy bass.

How much power is enough? It depends. In my case, perhaps a little more. I have wood floor. On the wall, I have a plasma and two rear speakers. When I watch movie, I often leave my window openned for ventilation and my French doors openned for the cool breeze at night. Most importantly, I leave them openned so my head does not spin w/ buzzing sound from heavy bass at the end of the movie. I just couldn't resist the blasting effect.

Tonight, I am no longer confused. I have learned much more from you all. I learn about the limitations. It is a vital process in getting to the truth. It is a concensus that my Denon needs an amp. I am sure with the amp, I can experience MORE dynamic sonic spectrum. I can hear voice with warmth (not muddy); at the same time, I can hear the crystal sound the moment the dropping pin makes contact w/ the rim of the glass. It is a concensus that I need a dedicate source of strong and clean AC.

More importantly, I learn that Marty9876 has been right all this time. "Pick another hobby," he wrote. I reluctnatly learn about my fundamental limitation. It is called cash flow. After all these consultations, I have learned that it takes a lot more cash to get just a little closer in achieving perfection.

Perhaps, if I am good through out the rest of the year, Santa Clause will bring me a nice amp to hook up to my gears. In the meantime, I ought to lower the volume as I ought to mingle more with my nice neighbors.
Please take my remark "Pick another hobby," with a large pile of salt.

Really what I meant is some people are perfectly fine with most any given gear(they are not reading this...) and, myself at least, find the limits of my gear and try to learn why the gear has limits/causes of such limits and how to increase such limits.

To follow this tricky road leads to one end point, a new piece of equiment. Equiment cost money, sometimes a great deal of money. The best I can do is to try and spend my money wisely.

I knew your thread was coming, things not sounding good. Please try the "flat" settings for a week. The human ear/mind has a great ability to adjust. The settings you had were "correct". Right now you are use to listening to a majorly inflated/hyped up soundstage.

" The left main speaker popped twice quickly during the heavy bass"

I have been meaning to say something about clipping. Clipping is way, way bad. This is how equiment dies.

Best of Luck,

Interesting results Lej1447! I have a few questions regarding the test you conducted.

You said after setting the 8.3s to small you adjusted the crossover higher on BOTH the Denon and Polk PSW350.

When setting your speakers to small and allowing the Denon to perform all the bass management, you should BYPASS the crossover in your powered sub by going "direct in" otherwise you'll have a phenomena known as "cascading filters", which is two crossovers one after the other performing the same task near the same crossover point. This should be avoided because it can hamper the performance of the subwoofer and cause strange dips or humps near that area.

One way to avoid this is to either use the "direct in" jack on the powered sub which in most cases completely bypasses its low pass filter, thus allowing the Denon to handle all the bass management with only one low pass filter in the mix. I noticed that the PSW350 has three inputs. Speaker level, LFE and line level. In your case you should be using LFE because your intended use is for movies. I don't know however if this input bypasses Polk's crossover.

If the LFE input doesn't bypass the subs crossover, then crank it as high as it will go so the Denon's and Polk's filters aren't close enough to affect each other. An example would be setting the Denon's crossover to 80Hz and turning the Polk's all the way up to its 160Hz max setting. You'll still have cascading filters, but this configuration wouldn't be as bad as if they were near the same crossover point. When I was using the NHT SA-3 amp/crossover which is intended for use with my NHT SW3P passive subwoofer, this is exactly what I did since the SA-3 doesn't have a direct in jack. Now that I'm using a Bryston 4B instead of the SA-3, I go directly from the amp to the sub without any filters in the path.

Also, you said you turned the crossover on your Denon up. To what frequency setting? If I had your system I would experiment with LFE settings on your Denon starting in the 80Hz range [if adjustable], this will aleviate much of the bass duty your ARs are enduring while retaining the qualities you like. I don't know if it's the same for your unit, but I see that the AVR-2803 has switchable low pass settings of 40, 60, 80, 100, and 120Hz. If you had set your Denon to 120Hz when you did your test, this could explain why Ian McKellan sounded like a little girl. No, not the OTHER reason, heheh! And, if your Denon was set to this while the Polk had a slightly lower setting these two things in combination could cause a "hole" or "suck out" at that frequency, thus the lack of warmth which is usually attributed to an upper bass hump. Also, try the 60Hz setting and see how that works.

Check all these issues pertaining to your LFE settings, because something as simple as this could be at the root of your dilemna.

In the end, it may just be your Denon. After all, its 90wpc rating is probably a bit optimistic and not an indication of its actual ability to supply dynamic power and high current on demanding movie tracks. It's like my old Integra GSR which had a high horsepower rating and could rev like a demon, but was dog at low RPMs because it had no low end torque at all.

Another thing that might complicate your situation as well is speaker AND subwoofer placement. If you haven't taken a lot of care in placement and set up, search on line for some guides for HT speaker placement. You'd be surprised how vital proper placement of all speakers and especially the subwoofer is to achieving a great movie experience. Yes, subwoofer placement is crucial and in my opinion the most difficult speaker to position.

Sean, quite frankly I'm stunned that you SAY you hadn't thought of the "small" setting for Lej1447's 8.3s. Over the years, I have enjoyed and learned immeasurably from your posts pertaining to 2 channel audiophilia. I'm very honored by you compliment!

Lej1447, if you think setting up a home theater is CONFUSING, don't ever take the step to 2 channel listening. I find this arena to be far more complex with endless upgrade paths and limitless permutations in search of musical bliss. But the rewards can be magic!

Keep at it!
Ahh, 2 ch is easier. Less channels..:)Cheaper also.

Just goofing around.

Gunbei: My HT system consists of "large" speakers i.e. the mains have dual 12's and an 8", the center has dual 8's in a large box, the rears have two 10's and an 8", etc... As such, i've not had to tinker with various settings. With that in mind, the simple but elegant solution that you arrived at was initially out of my scope. That is, i never use those controls so i never thought about them. : )

Your suggestion to Lej regarding filter settings is right on the money. Hopefully he'll try that and be able to obtain a happy medium between fullness of sound and the SPL's that he desires. Sean
Hey Marty, I wish 2 channels was easier, hahah! I'm finding it to be way more expensive as well!

Sean, your discussions always seemed to center around 2 channel and I never considered you might have an HT system. What kind of gear are you running? Your main speakers with built -in 8s and 12s is exactly the example of speakers that I was searching for that should be set to large. I use little NHT SuperOnes and SuperZeros, so setting them to small is optimal, but I have experimented with setting them to large just for fun.

It's interesting that your center channel has two 8s and that your rears have 8s and 10s. I've read about many systems including magazine reviewer's own systems that employ subs to operate in tandem with all their speakers EXCEPT the center channel. And I'm not just talking about multiple LFE subs, but one integrated with each speaker via its own crossover network. I've read explanations on why the center channel is excluded from this, but never truly understood why. Your system seems to mirror this philosophy in a way except that the "subs" are built into each cabinet, except the center channel. I hope this is another area you can help enlighten me, hahah.
Gunbei: Are you green with an odd shaped head and hang around with a horse named "Pokey" ? Oh, nevermind. Wrong fictional guy, similar name... : )

As for my center channel, the cabinet is quite large at appr 4 cu ft. This is an obvious advantage when it comes to bass reproduction as you probably know. As such, the "little" pair of 8's can do 30 Hz quite well ). The fact that they are only running up to 1.2 KHz allows them to make pretty long excursions without muddying things up.

As for LFE subs, i've been experimenting in that department a bit. I typically run two independent subs with each one housing a downloaded 12" driver. These drivers are identical to those found in the mains. As to why i downloaded them, this helps to reduce the audibility of distortion, reduces the effects of localization, increases spl capacity, lowers the cut-off frequency of the driver, increases "earthquake effects" via floor transmissions, etc... The drawbacks of downloading are that it reduces power handling and stresses the suspension of the driver to a great extent.

All speakers in this system are of a sealed design ( the ONLY way to fly ). The mains are solid down to 23 Hz with a Q of .5, the center is solid down to about 32 Hz with a Q of .7 and the rears are solid down to 27 Hz with a Q of .65 or so. If someone reading this knows anything about interpreting speaker specs, they would instantly know that i am a big fan of very tight, well controlled bass. Ported or passive radiator "slop" is not allowed in my house ( just kidding ) : )

As far as amplification goes, the two mains are being fed 1200 wpc ( actually measured at 1480 wpc @ clipping ) and the center, surrounds and each sub are fed 800+ wpc. These ratings are based on the nominal 4 ohm load that each speaker presents to the various amplifier channels.

As far as my responses primarily concentrating on 2 channel, i have four 2 channel systems and 1 HT system. You tell me what is more important ??? : ) Sean
Sean, I'm a little more yellow than green. I have a wedged head but not on one side, it's more in the front. I don't know any fellow named Pokey, but I do whiz around on one foot with the other one lifted behind me.

FOUR 2 channel systems??!!!! Wow.
Yup, 2 channel is a beyatch compared to home theater. We should rename this website "masochistgon".

Atleast, I am done for now. I haven't changed a thing since June. I will laugh at the rest of you guys.
You ain't done Viggen!

As soon as you locate a cool, inexpensive, obscure piece of equipment that has a cleaver yet elegant design you'll fall off the wagon and order it directly from the guy that builds them with his own little hands.

It's only temporary!
HAHAHA Dean you are like the worms in my stomache. You know me better than I know myself!

I just bought this home theater in the box... http://www.techtronics.com/uk/images/panasonic/panasonic-sc-dm3-X.jpg

Conclusion, I still am obsessed with those obscure gadgets but doesn't have to be 2 channel stuff = D.

Come to think of it, how are your two newly acquired inexpensive shieky gadgets? = P